May 18, 2017

Yellowtail Sashimi with Serrano & Ponzu

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Yellowtail is paired with Serrano and yuzu kosho for a little spice and with cilantro and ponzu for an extremely flavorful, yet light dish. When buying yellowtail for this dish be sure to get high-quality sushi-grade fish.
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This quick raw hamachi is topped with slices of serrano peppers, yuzu kosho, cilantro and ponzu. Variations of this dish can frequently be found at plenty of sushi restaurants but I started eating a similar plate at the Nobu in Malibu. I know it sounds like the verse of a Drake song. I used to frequent the restaurant when it opened during my senior year of college at Pepperdine. It was located just down the road from my apartment. I was a firm believer of treating yourself after a hard day of studying! So my roommate and I would find any opportunity we could to go for (self-imposed) happy hour drinks and to split some appetizers.

Yellowtail Sashimi with Serrano & Ponzu

yellowtail sashimi with serrano cilantro and ponzu on white plate

All about yellowtail

Yellowtail, also known as hamachi, is a firm fish with a high fat content, which makes for great sashimi. Here the yellowtail is paired with Serrano and yuzu kosho for a little spice with cilantro and ponzu for an extremely flavorful, yet light dish. When buying yellowtail for this dish be sure to get high-quality sushi-grade fish.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Yuzu kosho – Yuzu is a Japanese lemon-like citrus with unique fruit flavor. The condiment,”Yuzu kosho”, utilizes the yuzu juice and ferments it along with green chilies and salt. It packs a punch so only a small bit is needed but it adds a great citrusy, spicy flavor.
  • Cilantro – A leaf of cilantro adds a subtle herby flavor and colorful garnish.
  • Serrano – Serrano peppers are long, bright green peppers similar in flavor to jalapeños but pack about five times the punch. While jalapeños range between 2,000 to 5,00 Scoville units, serranos are between 5,000 and 15,000 Scoville units. If you can’t find serrano pepper, substitute jalapenos. Remember: the more seeds you have, the spicier it will be.
  • Ponzu – Ponzu is a flavorful and citrus sauce made from soy sauce, citrus juice, mirin, bonito flakes, kombu and rice vinegar. It comes in a few varieties with citrus juices like lemon juice but I prefer it made with lime juice.
yellowtail sashimi with serrano and ponzu closeup

Using Raw Fish

While it can seem intimidating since you are working with raw fish as long as you buy fresh high-quality ingredients there is no reason for it to be daunting.

Ask your fishmonger for sushi grade fish, they should be able to provide much more information about whether their fish can be eaten raw. If they don’t know then that is a red flag within itself.

It is important to make note of how long the store or fishmonger has had the fish. I buy the sushi-grade fish from my local seafood market the day of, or day before, making dinner as fresh as possible. All fish that is going to be eaten raw should be previously frozen. This kills any harmful parasites.

Where to Buy Sushi Grade Fish

  • At your local fish market. Many fish markets offer selections of fresh fish like tuna or salmon that can be used for spicy tuna crispy rice. Then, ask your fishmonger for more advice! They are a great resource.
  • At a Japanese market. Many markets sell pre-packaged cuts of sushi-grade tuna in the refrigerated section. This keeps it easy for use in this recipe!
  • Buy online. So, if you don’t have a place to buy fresh high-quality fish locally, I recommend ordering online. There are plenty of places where you can get fish shipped quickly – I particularly like Honolulu Fish Co. also available on Goldbelly.
closeup shot of thinly sliced yellowtail hamachi sashimi recipe

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

Tips for cutting raw hamachi
  • Use a sharp knife! A sharp knife will really help so you can easily cut the fish.
  • It’s easiest to cut the fish when it’s chilled and firm.
Sashimi vs. crudo

Sashimi is a Japanese preparation of raw fish served simply. “Crudo” is both the Spanish and Italian word for raw. It’s an overarching term for raw fish, beef or shellfish dressed with olive oil and citrus.

Swaps and substitutions
  • Serve alongside a bowl of rice topped with sesame seeds and avocado for a quick meal.
  • Try garnishing the dish with tobiko (flying fish roe) or masago (smelt fish roe).

Other recipes to try

If you enjoy this yellowtail sashimi you may enjoy these other raw recipes:

Yellowtail Sashimi with Serrano & Ponzu

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Serves 2


  • ¼ pound sushi grade yellowtail (hamachi)
  • 1 medium Serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  • Handful cilantro leaves, stems discarded
  • ½ teaspoon yuzu kosho
  • 2 tablespoons ponzu


  • Thinly slice the yellowtail into about 8 equal slices. Arrange on a platter and top each piece of yellowtail with a slice of Serrano pepper, a cilantro leaf and a drop of yuzu kusho. Drizzle the ponzu over the top.



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